Goulburn Valley businesses to benefit from funding

By Alana Christensen

Regional manufacturing is set to be delivered a boost, with a collaborative manufacturing cluster announced in Shepparton last week.

Unveiled by Victorian Industry Minister Ben Carroll at irrigation technology business Rubicon Water’s Shepparton plant on Thursday, the Shepparton Manufacturing Cluster is expecting to bring 15 local businesses together to boost productivity, innovation and supply chain opportunities.

Part of a $5million statewide initiative, the cluster will incorporate five large businesses and 10 medium to small-scale businesses and give local manufacturers access to programs to strengthen their business.

Mr Carroll, who described Rubicon Water as the ‘‘anchor’’ of the cluster, applauded the business for its increased domestic and international opportunities.

‘‘Shepparton is where it’s all happening on a global scale. Rubicon Water (as) we’ve just seen from product development to testing to digital automation — with products exported to Chile, to China — is a real success story,’’ he said.

The company’s services include the design and manufacture of highly engineered water control gates and precision water measurement instrumentation that is combined with wireless communications networks, advanced monitoring and control software to serve the irrigation and municipal water industries.

Chief executive officer Bruce Rodgerson said Rubicon Water expected to benefit internally from the manufacturing cluster.

‘‘We’re conscious we’re a bit of a leader in this area and that we’re keen to be part of a cluster and bolster some of those other manufacturers in learning and gaining something off our experience,’’ he said.

The business, which last year expanded into China, now sells into 10 countries and has offices in New Zealand, the United States, India, Spain and China.

With up to 69Ml a day flowing through the company’s hydraulic flow and testing laboratory, the largest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere, Rubicon Water’s design and production general manager Dr Paul Spooner said there was a continuous effort to improve products.

‘‘R&D has always been quite significant, we’re continually searching for water efficiencies,’’ he said.

‘‘The testing tracks data from individual sensors and also connects live to Melbourne so it can be monitored from down there.’’

As export opportunities increased, Dr Spooner said the facility was getting busier and was used ‘‘around the clock’’.

For international customers Mr Rodgerson said the facility was not only an opportunity to show the company’s commitment to R&D, but also demonstrate how its products would operate in a live situation.

Embracing opportunity

Victorian Minister for Industry and Employment Ben Carroll says a new manufacturing cluster announced last week will boost productivity and create jobs in Shepparton.

‘‘Sometimes businesses need extra support to grow; the Shepparton Manufacturing Cluster will help locals address key barriers and give them the skills they need to position them for success,’’ he said during Thursday’s announcement of the project.

Part of a $5million statewide scheme to boost the capability of regional manufacturers, the initiative will offer access to programs designed to boost productivity and competitiveness, embrace innovation, adopt new skills and develop trade and supply chain opportunities.

The cluster, delivered in partnership with the Australian Industry Group, will bring together local businesses and connect them with other manufacturing organisations.

Mr Carroll said manufacturing continued to go from strength to strength and figures revealed that Victoria’s Performance of Manufacturing Index had grown for 16 consecutive months, the longest run of expansion since 2001.

State Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp welcomed the announcement of the manufacturing cluster and labelled Rubicon Water a ‘‘fantastic example’’ of a local business success story.